An English Bride in Scotland
I may never reread An English Bride in Scotland, but I don’t resent or regret the time I’ve spent with it. This lighthearted, sometimes comical romp through Scotland was just fine for a lazy summer afternoon. No, it’s not going to make my DIK pile, but it certainly doesn’t belong in the trash.
Annabel Withram was sent to an abbey at age seven to become a nun. As her mother put it, the abbey took Annabel with half the dowry that a lord would ask for, and they took her young, so her parents didn’t have to spend years feeding and clothing her. Annabel is on track to become a nun, when her mother shows up out of the blue and tells her she’s to marry her elder sister’s fiancé, Ross McKay. (The sister ran off with their stable boy.)
Poor Annabel is totally shocked. One minute she’s planning on marrying Jesus, the next she’s marrying a Scottish laird who’s going to carry her off to an entirely different future. Annabel doesn’t know the first thing about running a household, let alone men. Living with nuns for fourteen years will do that to a girl.
Ross, however, is quite happy with his innocent little bride. He reacts good-naturedly when she tells him that there’s to be no bedding on Wednesdays, as per the Church’s dictates, and calmly convinces her otherwise. The two get along quite well. Life is peachy all through their ride north and their first days at Ross’ castle…until they realize someone is out to get Annabel.
The first episode occurred on the road north. At the time, everyone just assumed some random traveler had passed a little close to where they were camped and spooked Ross’ new wife. However, after they moved into the castle Annabel had a run-in with a man carrying a club, who told her to come with him willingly so she wouldn’t be hurt. Ross got to her in time, and the scene itself is actually quite funny — Annabel has her dress caught around her head and starts running around in circles because she can’t see — but the reality of her would-be kidnapper is more serious.
So Ross sets up a system of bodyguards for Annabel. Then her spoiled elder sister comes for a visit (the stable boy didn’t work out) and life at the castle gets even busier. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that from the moment she sets foot in Scotland, poor Annabel’s life seems to be fraught with one disaster after another.
What I absolutely loved was that Annabel took it. She’s no complainer. We come to learn that her life at the abbey was really awful, but it’s clear that where others would have become embittered, Annabel chose to remain optimistic. She approaches each problem with a positive attitude, and that’s what made this book an enjoyable read. Ross was neither here nor there as a character, but Annabel was likeable.
The plot, too, I enjoyed. Well-paced and even funny, it kept me fairly interested through the end. Although I don’t plan to look up Lynsay Sands’ entire backlist, I definitely would read her again, based on what I saw here. Although it won’t be a DIK, it was enjoyable.